A fourth-down conversion and a 9-yard run by Alec Barstad give Estacada the 27-24 win at Molalla

by: PAMPLIN MEDIA GROUP: CORY MIMMS - Estacadas Alex Barstad breaks into the open field during Fridays win. He finished with 106 yards and two TDs. MOLALLA — After combining for seven touchdowns in the first half, the teams fell silent after the break. The end zone would get only one more visit, and Estacada was happy to make the trip.

Trailing the host Indians 24-20, Estacada was down to its final possession. It was make or break time for the Rangers.

The team was on the verge of breaking after facing a 4th-and-8, but QB Willie Blankenship calmly dropped back and hit Brandon Beck with a screen pass to convert the first down. That would lead to backfield mate Alec Barstad scooting into the end zone from 9 yards out for the winning score with 1:10 to play.

“It was awesome,” Estacada coach Andy Mott said. “We’ve had positive things all season, but in this game we seemed to turn a corner. We played mistake free football and battled all the way to the end.”

The teams tallied four touchdowns each, the difference in the game came in the point-after attempts. Estacada kicker Steven Weaver was 3-for-3 on kicks with a pass attempt in the second quarter being the only failed try.

“It’s great to have a kicker who we can rely on to knock the ball through,” Mott said.

Meanwhile, the Indians went 0-for-4 on their conversions — two runs stuffed, a kick blocked and another that sailed wide.

The Rangers started fast with two touchdowns within a minute in the first quarter. Barstad started it with a 7-yard run, while Brandon Beck bulled his way over the goal line from 2 yards out 40 seconds later. A blocked punt by Phillip Cipolla set up the quick turnaround.

“The emotions were high on the sideline, and the kids were having a good time playing football,” Mott said.

The teams would go on to trade the lead four times with Molalla going into halftime with the lead after Payton Dobbs hauled in a 10-yard catch with 1:06 left in the half.

Estacada QB Willie Blankenship had Estacada’s other touchdown with a fumble recovery in the end zone. He completed 6 of 10 passes for 75 yards.

Barstad led the ground game with 106 yards on 23 carries, while Beck added 77 yards on 18 carries.

Linebacker Kordell McPherson led the defense with five tackles, including two behind the line of scrimmage.

The Rangers were 4-for-5 on fourth downs.

Estacada plays at Gladstone at 7 p.m. Friday.

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